Microsoft Adds to Lead as Dow's Top-Performing Stock

Paul Ausick

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) shares rose to a new all-time high Thursday, a week after reporting earnings that beat expectations, and affirmed its place as the Dow’s best-performing stock for the year to date. The stock added 1.33% for the week (including a dip of 1.7% on Friday). For the year to date, Microsoft shares have risen by 25.9%.

The second-best performer among the Dow Jones industrial average equities so far this year is Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), which is up 23.4%. That is followed by Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), up 22.9%, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), up 222.3%, and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), up 16.1%. Of the 30 Dow stocks, 17 have managed to post a gain to date in 2018.

The blue-chip index added nearly 393 points over the course of the past week to close at 25,451.06, up about 1.5% from the previous Friday’s close. For the year to date, the index is up just 0.4%. The Dow closed up less than 1% for the second quarter but down 1.8% for the first six months of 2018.

Tech stocks had a tough week. First Facebook reported that growth was not as high as expected and the stock dropped 20% overnight. On Friday, Twitter and Intel earnings reports did the damage. The entire tech sector shared the pain, losing nearly 1.2% over the course of the week, including a 2% loss on Friday alone.

Microsoft’s story since reporting earnings has been one of ratings upgrades and price target increases. Here are some highlights:

  • JPMorgan: maintained Buy rating with a new price target of $115
  • KeyCorp: maintained Overweight rating and raised price target from $110 to $123
  • Citigroup: maintained Neutral rating and boosted price target from $100 to $113
  • Wells Fargo: raised rating from Outperform to Buy and raised price target from $115 to $120
  • Sanford C. Bernstein: maintained Buy rating and set a price target at $135
  • Goldman Sachs: maintained Buy rating and set a price target at $125

Microsoft’s shares closed Friday at $107.68, in a 52-week trading range of $71.28 to $111.15. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock rose by more than $8.00 a share week over week to $121.67.